Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Geography of Hearts

He sits, peaceful, unhurried, humble, wise,
arranging his medicine on the prayer cloth.

Carefully, he places them: the rock, the antler,
the abalone shell, the sage, the eagle wing,
the tobacco, and the pipe.

We sit in a circle, silent.
Thoughts are suspended.
Waiting is what is happening.

Then, around the circle he walks,
holding the abalone shell, using the eagle wing
-the entire wing of an eagle -
to blow the sage-smoke over us.

Each in turn, bathes in the smoke,
lifting it to our faces,
over our heads, down our arms and legs,
over our shoulders.

The medicine man returns to his prayer cloth,
and sits.
Slowly, he fits the pipe together,
tamps the tobacco down,
lights the pipe and draws.
He points the stem of the pipe
and breathes a stream of smoke
Above - towards the sun,
Below - towards the earth,
in each of The Four Directions.

The pipe passes around the circle.
One by one, we breathe in
the sacred smoke and pass it on.

When it has passed full circle
he dismantles it, puts his medicine away:
the rock, the antler, the abalone shell, the sage,
the eagle wing, the tobacco, and the pipe.

Then he brings out the drum.
Its beat reverberates
through my innermost being.

I know in one of my many lifetimes,
I have been First Nations.
My soul is First Nations now -
it is many nations,
for in all my lifetimes
I have been many people,
and in this lifetime I understand
that geography of hearts.

I am connected forever
to that day, to that circle,
to that sacred place,
and to the larger circle
of humankind that we all are.

The medicine man is singing,
each word a prayer and a blessing
with which our hearts are filled.

When he brings out the feather, to speak,
he tells us: "Your greatest pain
is your strongest medicine."

He looks straight into my eyes.
He knows. I understand.

We are waiting
for the Rainbow Race to rise,
and usher in
a thousand years of peace.

Monday, May 29, 2017


Parks Canada photo

Skinny, lean and hungry, you came,
lured by the smell of campfire suppers,
garbage, small dogs who look like prey.
A wealth of food smells and sensations,
drew your hungry belly
out of the bush,
when you'd be wiser to stay away.

Now you lie dead, the careful word 
"euthanized" obscuring the real story -
that we grow fatter as you grow leaner,
that you are being completely displaced
by the voracious needs
of the human race.

Sooner or later, your hunger brings you here,
where we - the big "we" 
that means "only we matter" -
are "protected" by your death,
just because you came too near.

I mourn. I mourn.
You grow closer to extinction
as more and more of us 
are born.

I am close to giving up
on human evolution.
All the facts are clear,
but we resist, refuse to hear.

But you - your heart is pure -
you live for food and family and clan.
You do the very best you can.
May those you leave behind beware
coming anywhere near
the beast called man.

I am sorrowful. One of the wolves involved in spring encounters with dogs in the Long Beach area has been euthanized, after food smells from campers at Green Point lured the hungry wolf  too close to humans. They are lean and hungry after a long winter. Their pups are being born, and it is natural they are lured by food smells and by campers' dogs. They are too desperate to remain at a safe distance. As always, when wildlife come "too close" to humans, they pay with their lives.

I should note that in the Pacific Rim National Park, wildlife officers are loathe to euthanize wolves. They felt it was necessary, as the wolves in this pack are losing their fear of man, viewing us as a food source. But I hate the struggle wild creatures have to survive in these times. I mourn each death. When it comes to humans and wolves, my heart is with the wolves.

Rest well, Wolf Brother. We are lessened by your passing.

news source

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Lost Shoe Creek

I lost my heart
at Lost Shoe Creek;
handed it to an hombre
I had yet to meet,
who never showed up
on his own two feet
to claim it,
frame it,
or name it.

So I straggled over
to Canoe Crick,
set forth up the rapids
that were roiling quick.
To help me,
no fellow paddler dear.
I had one dented paddle
with which to steer.
When the bears came close,
I got addled
and skedaddled.

At Cat's Ear Creek,
the willows were listening
to my lovelorn song,
my tears a-glistening.
Strummed my banjo
with a mournful air.
There was no true love
waiting there.

Put in at the saloon
at Hornswoggle Holler.
There were ladies fair,
both bigger and smaller,
vying for the hombres
with their tilted hats,
and I was not
all right with that.
So I do-si-do'ed
to the tune of the caller.
Though I danced real fast,
my hopes grew smaller.
Then one winked at me
with a slow-melt grin,
do-si-do'ed me out
and then back in.
We passed each other on the right,
back to back our troth did plight.
I had met the one
I'd forever foller.
I fair lost my heart
at Hornswoggle Holler.

LOL. I seem to have channeled an inner female Cowpoke in this one. I passed a couple of these creek names on my trip to Port Alberni this morning, and I jotted their names down, deciding it might be fun to see where they would take me.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Language of Clouds

Looking at the sky, we long to learn
the language of clouds, of mountaintops.
Mother Sky, teach me
how to sing like small bird, like raven,
like Owl.
Quiet my heart, so I may listen
to the breath of Grandfather Cedar,
and learn to speak tree,
to speak river,
to speak wind.

Transform my soul
to make me worthy of
learning to sing
in whalesong.
Lead me along the shore,
to count the waves,
my heart singing 
joyously and forever
the song of Ocean.

One from 2015, which I will share with the Poetry Pantry, where you will find fine reading of a Sunday morning. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Summer Blooms

I remember the soft scented evenings
of summer, when I was a girl:
peony and lilac, sweet pea and nasturtium,
japonica and geranium and tall hollyhocks
in my grandmother's garden.

I liked to think the garden
was a village for fairies,
who took shelter under the leaves
during afternoon thunderstorms.
I remember the smell of earth
rising up, sharp, metallic,
in the moments just before the rain,
my Grandma and I exchanging smiles
in her back porch.
How she loved a good thunderstorm!
I love them still; that smell of coming rain
always takes me back to
summertime Kelowna, in the 60's.

And I am fifteen again,
standing under white blossoms in City Park,
as a brown-eyed boy hands me a bloom,
sweetly saying: "Poor man's orchid,"
just before my first
broken heart.

for Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: Flowers

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Raging Grannies

Raging Grannies of Victoria, B.C.

We may look like
grey-haired little old ladies,
but make no mistake.
Our hearts are warriors
for Life.
The grannies are raging 
in the northern hemisphere.
We are growling and muttering
as we watch the evening news.
We are calling each other up, to say
"Can you  believe what he's done now?"

We have been subversive in 
our lives and in our language.
We have penned things on our blogs
and know we are likely on a list somewhere.
Somewhere there is a computer earmarking 
the use of words like "direct action" and "Resist,"
"Radical" and "Blockade."

And now we are getting off 
(and going off) our rockers,
and taking to the streets. 
We are riled up, gnarly, determined, snarly.
We are putting on our loud clothing 
and our strange hats,
and we are marching.
We are standing at the steps
of Legislature,
well and truly fed up,
and we are singing 
"We Will Not Be Moved."

How many times have we 
marched and sung,
in our lives,
and now we have to do it
all over again.
No rest, 
when all is wicked.

In summation:
the ruling classes could not have made 
a bigger mess of things.
Stand aside, orange creature
with bad hair;
back away slowly, 
corporate rapists of the earth.
You've had your chance, you leaders 
too weak (or too rich) to oppose them, 
who put profit before people,
profit before environment,
profit before planetary survival
every single time.

Earth to Capitalism:
There are No Jobs
On a Dead Planet.

Step aside, 
and let the women 
have a go at it.
We'd start with Earth First,
and go on from there.

for Paul Scribbles' cool prompt at dVerse: Underground

Monday, May 22, 2017

Breathing Peace

Breathe in the cacophony
of the quarrelsome talking heads;
breathe out the birdsong
of a thousand singing forests.

Breathe in the gazillion dollar contracts
for military weapons, and the talk of war;
breathe out a billion wildflowers
cascading down the side of a mountain.
Breathe out armloads of hopeful babies,
and their  mothers, wanting only 
to raise them in peace,
with enough to eat, 
and a future in which to live.

Breathe in the bombs and death camps,
the captive girls, the child soldiers,
the young men whose guarded eyes 
have seen too much,
whose dreams have become nightmares;
breathe out a prayer of peace,
that will float across the world,
entering the neocortexes of 
the maddened guerillas,
rendering them transformed,
from fighters to friends of humanity,
who cannot kill again.

Breathe in earthquakes, explosions, 
fracking, flooding,
melting glaciers at the top and bottom poles;
breathe out restored balance, reduced emissions,
cooling land and oceans,  survival
for sea life and coastal communities.
Breathe out armies of people
cleaning and restoring 
the ocean and the land, 
and planting trees, 

Breathe in the toxic nightmare of today's politics;
breathe out a flock of sandpipers, 
moving as one body at the edge of the sea,
just as we can move together,
if we but have 
the intelligence and will.
Breathe out stars, and bioluminescence,
silver paths upon the water,
and a moon, serenely smiling
upon a land of gentle dreamers.

Breathe in walls and division;
breathe out harmony and unity:
no "us" and "them" - just people of the earth,
who wish to raise their children
towards a brighter tomorrow.

Breathe in despair, hopelessness, 
displacement, famine;
breathe out prayers that last 
from morning to nightfall
for a hurting world.
Pray for humankind
to become conscious,
as a whole,
Pray for evolution,
for transformation.
then do what you can,
where you are.

It seems the news is getting me down. Keep focussing on peace, my friends, and let's take what action we can to fix what is near at hand. Plant trees. Voice objections to elected officials. There is much to resist.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Breaking News is Breaking My Tired Old Heart

In those days,
journalism was a sacred trust.
"Stop the presses!" the editor
would roar, flying out back
to the men laying upside down words
in the frames, row upon row.

When it printed,
we all sat around the news room,
reading, with inky fingers and
smiles of satisfaction:
another paper, done.
The news, then, was pretty:
a good orchard crop,
a Lady of the Lake crowned,
another summer Regatta.

Now, news is everywhere,
and is pretty much all appalling.
Journalists report what they hear said
with their own ears,
report what is being slid through Congress
by sleight of hand,
and it is all labeled fake news.
How convenient.

It's a "witch hunt",
yet the reporting is of words
from his own mouth,
abhorrent words.

"Walls work.
Just ask Israel," the big toad sneers.
Ask a Palestinian how well walls work.

I am living in a world
of nightmare news
and uncertain futures,
where all we once held dear
has been knocked on its ass.

In those days,
we believed truth was beauty
and beauty was truth.
And now our tired old hearts
grow weary,
weary at the daily news.

for Brendan's prompt at Real Toads: the news

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Standing People, Before They Fall

I wake early. 
Mist is rising off the lake.
Rain taps lightly along my branches,
and down,
hitting mushroom and salal,
fiddlehead and fern,
as we gratefully drink
after long, dry summer's heat.

The earth is shaking.
I tremble.
The big-wheeled trucks move in.
Doors slam.
Men yell and laugh,
then head off,
each in his own direction.

There it is! The screaming roar
of the big saws,
the ominous rumbling
of the grapple-yarders,
the sudden crack! as my sisters fall,
roots pointing towards heaven,
an end to the slaughter,
sap running like blood
down into the ground.

I dig my roots deep 
into Mother Earth.

I will hold on tight
for as long as I can.
But, no! Here he comes,
a Two-Legged,
with his fearsome saw.

photo by

* First Nations often refer to the trees as Standing People, in their stories and legends.

A poem from 2012, shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United. Come on over, for some good reading to accompany your morning coffee!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Call of the Forest

Call of the Forest - Official Trailer from Treespeak Films on Vimeo.

Ancient beings,
infinitely nurturing and wise,
their presence
gives us
the very air we breathe.

In the cool depths of the forest,
we feel a sacredness,
a communion,
connection with
an age-old mystery.

If we stay silent,
we may hear them

How is it
we cut them down,
giver of the air we breathe?
we should be praying to them,
protecting them.

How is it
we are the only species
to desecrate and destroy
our own habitat?

"Plant trees,"
the wise one said.
"If everyone planted a tree,
we could reverse
global warming."

Last night I watched Call of the Forest : The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees. It was beautiful, and amazing. The "she" I refer to is Diana Beresford-Kroeger, who narrated the film. She is a lovely forest sprite.

This community I live in is very forest-aware, its people having taken a stand against the logging companies to protect and preserve its old growth. It is stunning how little original forest remains on the planet, incomprehensible how destructive we are. Ms. Beresford-Kroeger speaks of the Druids, who knew the language of the trees, understood the fates of humans, trees and water are directly linked. The film's call to plant trees, with examples of even urban centres doing so, left me feeling hopeful.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sad Eyes

Is there anything
in this world
than the eyes
of a circus bear?

Does he remember
baby days when he 
roamed the forest,
scratched his back on big trees,
caught fish
in the river?

In his cage at night,
does he remember
other bears,
tall grass,
the feel of the wind
in his face?
When he dreams,
does he dream
of freedom
or captivity?

Is there anything
more unnatural
than a bear on a bicycle?
Yet when he resists,
he is beaten.
When he roars,
he is whipped.

The people in the audience
laugh as he pedals past.
But deep down,
there is shame.
For there is nothing
sadder in this world
than the eyes of a circus bear.

for Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: Bicycles, Tricycles and Unicycles

Monday, May 15, 2017

In the Meantime

As I cannot restore the land
that has been fracked,
or the fields whose topsoil has blown away,
been poisoned and depleted,
may I plant a few small blooming things
on my  tiny porch,
to offer the Earth Mother
blessings and thanks.

As it is beyond my ability,
to cleanse the earth and the ocean
of its garbage, its plastic pollution,
its chemicals and debris,
may I carry with me a bag
in which to pick up litter
on my walks,
to tidy what, at least,
my two hands can carry.

Since I cannot provide a home
to rescue the millions of abused,
homeless, hungry and abandoned dogs,
let me borrow a dog and take her for walks,
so at least I can add that small bit of happiness
to a fur creature's day.

Since I cannot single-handedly
stop the slaughter and the extinction
of the world's beautiful wild creatures,
let my voice be heard
on every petition, at every opportunity,
in support of their protection.

As it is out of my ken
to fathom the unspeakable disaster
of the way this world is being run
by those in power,
may I join with others and
Resist, Resist, Resist,
until the tide is turned back
from darkness and unkindness
to the light of love and justice.

"As Mother Earth feels our pain,
let her feel our joy too."
May our brightness shine
upon the darkness that surrounds,
accelerating the transformation
of human consciousness,
add what caring, what kindness,
what positives we can.
May we stand strong in our belief
that there are more good people
than dark-hearted ones
in this old world.

Yes, We Can!

The quote is from friend and activist Valerie Langer, who has devoted her life to working for and defending Mother Earth.

For Love of Books and Beaches

I spent this past weekend house and dog-sitting, so you can well imagine my pleasure at designing my days around a dog once again.

We went to the beach first thing....later, we walked to the library, where I came away with treasure. Librarians, wherever I live, know me by name very quickly, so many of the books and movies that come in having been requested by me. In Port Alberni, they joked I kept their  user stats up all by myself. "You secure our funding," they would laugh.

So today I brought away two treasures, the movie Collateral Beauty that I have long wanted to see, and a slim volume titled "Tolstoy and the Purple Chair- My Year of Magical Reading".

 I am thick into it. The author, Nina Sankovitch, lost her sister to cancer at 46. In deciding to read a book a day for a year, she sought both escape and a way back into life, its moments of beauty that offset the sorrow. For which we would make this journey again and again.  Nina remarks that  looking backwards makes us wiser. She weaves wisdom from her reading through family history, memory and philosophy - my favourite kind of read.

So a lovely afternoon read, with Menina the Dog snoozing close by, then a suppertime walk on the beach, along the tombolo. That is a long stretch of sand linking the beach to Frank's Island. Most times, one can walk to the island, but sometimes the tides cover it, the waves meeting across it to wonderful effect.

Suddenly I remembered  standing in the same spot eighteen years ago, turning in a circle, seeing beauty for 360 degrees. On that spot I first intuited that I would soon be leaving this place so dear. It was unthinkable, but necessary. I had fallen ill, income had stopped, and there was no way to hang onto my toehold, precarious at best. I mourned it the seventeen years I spent away.

And now I was back, in that very spot. Slowly, smiling, I turned in a circle. Again, beauty for 360 degrees. I was home.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Why I Love This-Place-So-Dear

Kids, if you watch this, a video about one of the kids my youngest, Stephanie, went to school with, Raph Bruhwiler, who is now a surfing super-star, you will begin to understand my passion for this place - its wildness, its beauty, its energy, its people. There is nowhere like it.

Catherine, Raph's sister, who speaks in the video, is the one who bought my trailer, when illness struck, income stopped, and I was forced to leave - by ambulance - this place I loved so dearly. I grieved its loss for the seventeen years I was away. It is not easy to return. There is no housing. Finding a year round rental is akin to winning the lottery. And somehow, I won! (I know I deserve it!)

When it began to become clear to me I was going to have to leave this place I loved so much, I remember standing on the tombolo at Chestermans Beach - the strip of land connecting beach to Frank's Island, sometimes covered by waves, sometimes with sand you can walk across . I turned in a circle, beauty for 360 degrees.......and then the thought came to me, that I might soon have to leave. Unthinkable.

Two nights ago, I went to that same tombolo. As I stood in the same spot, I remembered that turning, that thought. Again, I turned in a circle - beauty for 360 degrees. And I was back! Sometimes we are blessed. But to be twice blessed - now THAT is amazing!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Watch For Me, a Sandpiper at the Edge of the Sea

Dear beloved ones,
I will return to the shores of Wickaninnish,
roiling in winter storm.
I shall come back to watch the morning break
against blue sky and rose-tinged puffy cloud,
to see all the creatures stir and waken,
and the day unfold.
I shall return to gaze in wonder,
at the end of day,
as the sun sinks, purple, azure, gold,
below the horizon,
and the skies become a masterpiece
painted by God.

I may return as a seabird,
as Jonathan, 
still outside of the pack, observing, 
still hobbling on the ground
and dreaming of the sky.
I'll pick a shell in my beak 
and carry it off to my perch,
then drop it,
deep in the forest,
for a wanderer to find, 
and marvel at, years hence.
Or I might be a sandpiper, 
one of the flock,
lifting and turning together
as one body, at the edge of the sea.

How could my spirit not return
to the forests and rivers and ocean I love,
to catch my breath once more as the morning mist
drapes itself companionably across Lone Cone,
to behold once more her slopes turning deepest rose
in late afternoon?
The call of the murmurous, forever waves,
the smell of salt, kelp and seaweed,
ocean essence will draw me, as before,
to the beautiful shore.

I will return, once again young, 
for the smell of peony
on soft-scented summer evenings,
for a shy, youthful kiss under weeping willow,
lake ripples lapping gently,
and all of life's hopes and dreams lying ahead,
all golden and shining.
I will return for apple blossoms, 
and the smell of sage on hot, dusty hills
covered with yellow flowers.

The blue sky will draw me back
as it drew my gaze for all my many years,
as will the ancient trees, where restless spirits live,
their mournful song whispering secrets and wisdom -
urgent truth for us to hear and heed,
if we but listen.

I will return to see the ocean
come back to life again, abundant,
recovered from its slow dying,
after the plastic waste and dumping, 
the polluting and the killing stops,
and all of its plants and creatures
stir back to life.
I will return to see 
the clearcut mountains greening up,
bees and butterflies and wolves
abundant once again, and thriving,
as that earth we are dreaming about now
heals and comes back into being.
I will return, with joy,
at that awakening.

If I don't return in body,
I will return as raindrops on salal,
as moss on an old stump,
or old man's beard on cedar.
I will return
in wagging puppy-tails 
and wise old elephant eyes,
or a grey whale, diving, 
its fluted tail arching over and up,
then slipping down, down, 
into the mysterious depths.

Watch the world with wonder,
dear ones.
Open your eyes to it all,
as I have these many years,
and you'll find me, never farther away 
than the nearest beautiful thing.

This poem was inspired by some translated lines of a famous Bengali poet, Jibanananda Das, sent to me by Sumana. The poem was about returning home after death. I wrote this in May of 2016 and thought to revisit it today, with apologies for its length. In my poem, I meant this as a returning in another life, or as Soul, to the beauty of this earth I love so much. But I have been twice blessed, to have been granted a return in this lifetime to a beloved landscape. I walked the beach this morning, heart swelling with gratitude for this great blessing.

Shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United, where you will find fine folk and good reading of a Sunday morning.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Infants of Spring

Lunabella at the Beach

It is spring.
The world is blooming with babies:
goats, puppies, kittens, birds,
and with baby humans,
pushed proudly in prams
by their smiling moms.

And my granddaughter cries,
her heart cleaving in two
at the sight,
as three babies slip
from her womb,
one after the other,
in their earliest weeks,
along with all of the
dreams and promises
that accompanied their

She does not know how
the story will end.
I do not know how
the story will end.
But I breathe her my hope.
I shower her with dreams,
with faith, with belief
in happy outcomes.

The world is blooming with babies,
jut not yet for her.

for Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: Childbirth, from a new perspective.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Of Wolves and Rivers

The lovely coastal wolves of Vargas Island
are in danger due to human-induced conflict.
Paul Nicklen photos, National Geographic

When the wolves come back
to the mountains,
trees grow,
rivers change their course,
vegetation blooms
and all the animals prosper.

When the wolves come back
to the mountains,
birds sing,
and bears grow fat.

Let we humans stay away
from the mountains and national parks.
Let's send in the wolves,
to heal and bless the land.

If we withdrew our excessive demands and encroachment, and gave nature some time, she would heal. 

Just a few weeks ago here, a pack of wolves was active along the wild beaches. I worried as, in other places I have lived, such activity usually resulted in death of the animals. Here, however, they closed the beaches for a week and encouraged the wolves to move along. An intelligent and respectful response.

On facebook, there is a brief and visually lovely video about the trophic effect that the re-introduction of wolves to Yellowstone has had on the landscape and wildlife. Frustratingly, I cant figure out how to insert the video here, but this is the link. It is really beautiful, short and edifying. We need more wolves, less human meddling with nature.

for Real Toads at Play It Again, Toads, where I am responding to a prompt by Hannah Gosselin about Transforming Nature's Wonders.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Love Into Art

source Andrew Ty

As fish long to walk on the shore,
and men yearn to take to the sky,
so has your radiant glow
always captured
my eye.

So far out of reach as you are,
I have long hid my love from afar,
as the day turns away from the moon,
and the sun from
a star.

All these years I have loved your bright heart,
though we've lived worlds and lifetimes apart.
Though you might never know
love that I'll never show,
I have turned loving you
into art.

One from 2016, friends, shared with the Poetry Pantry, where there is always good reading on a Sunday morning. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

When Hope Feels a Lot Like Denial

We won't be working on
reducing fossil fuel emissions by 2020,
funding is cut for science,
scientific information is being "disappeared",
global warming has been expunged
from public discussion,
even while we are standing 
in water up to our knees
on the main street of town,
and polar bears are swimming 
ten miles in search of ice.

But NASA has the trumpster's okay
to plan a mission to Mars,
for eleventy kazillion dollars,
because it would make him famous.
They can use all the money they cut 
from assistance programs needed
by humans and other creatures
here on earth.

The news is bad.
It is so bad
hope begins to feel 
a lot like denial.

The only upside of this latest folly 
is maybe trump can be the first man sent
on the mission to Mars.
Then, it might be worth the money.

Sigh. For Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: the news.